Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's firefighter hiring unfair: woman

The St. John's Regional Fire Department is being accused of discriminating against women when it hires firefighters.

Experienced female firefighter denied interview for job

The St. John's Regional Fire Department is being accused of discriminating against women when it hires firefighters.

A woman who applied for a job with the department said Wednesday that she was one of three women who were denied interviews for nine job openings.

Stephanie Alyward, 25, has worked as a firefighter in Fort McMurray, Alta., for the past two years.

She recently passed both the written and physical exams required to work with the St. John's department, but her bid to get work as a firefighter in her hometown ended there.

"They just screened me out and [the people they interviewed] have nothing but high school or just firefighting school and not experience, and yet they get an interview over myself because of a score on a physical," said Alyward.

Three women, including Alyward's sister, passed both exams. None of them was asked to interview for the nine jobs available. Thirty men were interviewed for the jobs.

The city's director of human resources said Wednesday that it all came down to test scores.

"What we did, and everyone knows this up front, was we took the best individuals with the best combined scores in the written and the physical portions of the testing," said Kevin Breen.

Alyward doesn't accept that response.

"That's not fair. If you say I need to do something in less than two minutes and I completed it in under two minutes, just because I do it in 1:50 and a man does it in 1:10 doesn't mean that he deserves a job more than me. Because if that's the case, then there should be no women in male-dominating jobs at all I guess," said Alyward.

Alyward and her sister wrote city council asking it to reconsider interviewing the women. She said their request was turned down.

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